Lady Saints find rhythm in third set

Berfin+Mertcan+and+Ana+Brangioni+go+up+for+a+block+against+Pratt+Community+College+Wednesday.+The+Lady+Saints+won+3-0+in+the+season+opener.

Victoria Martins

Berfin Mertcan and Ana Brangioni go up for a block against Pratt Community College Wednesday. The Lady Saints won 3-0 in the season opener.

The Lady Saints struggled in the first two sets against Pratt Community College Wednesday before finding their rhythm in the third set. They ended up shutting out the Beavers 3-0.

The lead in the first two sets shifted multiple times as the Pratt Beavers kept Seward County on their toes. A lot of the mistakes the Lady Saints made came through communication errors and the players still learning how to gel as a team.

Berfin Mertcan sets for Seyun Park during action against Pratt. (Victoria Martins)

“I think a big part of it is communication,” Geno Frugoli, Lady Saints’ head coach, commented postgame. “It’s just that the language barrier is still tough out there.”

With a roster of 14 players for the Lady Saints, seven different countries are represented. So the players have to become familiar with the seven languages being used. Many of the new players are still struggling to understand complicated terms in English. This can lead, as Frugoli pointed out, to some missed plays in these early games.

A key moment for the Lady Saints came in the middle of the second set with the game tied at 14. Sarah Cruz, a freshman outside hitter, came up with a kill that would not only give the Lady Saints the lead, but also give them enough momentum to finish the set 25-18. 

Cruz had a good game, but she wasn’t even practicing with the team a week ago. She missed the first game at the New Mexico Military Tournament last weekend, before playing the last three games of the tournament. Frugoli said she‘s still developing chemistry with the team.

“She’s only had two practices with us,” Frugoli said. “She’s got to learn how to gel, too. That’s part of that communication and gelling I’m talking about.”

I think they’re nervous to play in front of a home crowd.”

— Geno Frugoli

Some of the bad play could also be attributed to nerves in their first home game of the season. The energy the fans brought to the greenhouse with loud cheers and claps after important kills and blocks brought the game to a different level.

“I think they’re nervous to play in front of a home crowd,” Frugoli said. “And when they settled down, we saw better volleyball in set three.”

The home win was important for Seward County. Their main goal is to defend their title of KJCAA conference champions from the previous season.

“We talk about defending the conference and their goal is to win the conference again,” Frugoli said. “I told them that this is just the first step of a big journey of a big goal that we have.”

The win moves SCCC to 3-2 on the season and 1-0 in conference. The Lady Saints play again next Friday and Saturday at the Cisco/Ranger Roundup Tournament in Texas.